Thursday, August 28, 2008

Know Your Rights and Exercise Them

We just got done watching Obama's Acceptance Speech. It was quite inspiring. The key thing I took from it though is how important it is to exercise our right to matter what our political affiliation is. We are blessed with many important rights in this country and I believe we take them for granted. Myself included. I have to admit that I do not vote in every election and especially for local elections. But to have the privilege to help choose our leadership and the direction of our government is one to not take lightly. I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "Why should I vote - it doesn't even count." So Jav, Nate and I were discussing if any of us really knew what the electoral college was and how do our votes get they even really count? Sadly, between the three of us, with a serious amount of education amassed, we could not with sound confidence declare we knew what the Electoral College really is or what its purpose is.
Well, you know me and my friend Google, we went right to work. I understand now the origin and it's intentions...not sure I necessarily agree with it...but that's a whole other post.

I'm sure that you all already know this, but here is a simplified explanation on how/what the electoral college is and why we do things this way. In case anyone is interested! :-)

How the Electoral College Works
Instead of voting directly for a presidential candidate (and his or her vice-presidential running mate), voters in the fifty states and the District of Columbia vote for a slate of "electors" who are pledged to vote for a particular presidential ticket (president/vice-president team). The political parties in each state select a slate of electors. The electors selected by the party of the candidate winning the most popular votes in a state become the electors for that state. Instead of just tallying the total number of votes cast across the nation in presidential elections, votes are counted state-by-state. The winner of the popular vote in each state is awarded the electoral votes for that state. The candidate winning the majority of electoral votes wins.
Given this arrangement, it is possible to win the popular vote and lose the electoral vote.

One additional feature of the process that worries people every time a viable third-party candidate runs for President is that when no candidate wins a majority of electoral votes, the election is decided by the House of Representatives. In such a case, the House delegations from each state would have one vote each. The candidate with the support of the most House delegations would be declared the winner. Thomas Jefferson was elected not by popular vote or by winning a majority of electoral votes--he was selected by the House of Representatives.

Why Do We Elect Presidents This Way?
There are two primary reasons the Founders chose to select presidents via the electoral college instead of by direct, popular voting. The first reason was their lack of trust in the judgment of the people. They were fearful that a well-spoken but not well-intentioned individual could flatter the people and win their support. They hoped that a secondary body, such as the Electoral College, would not be susceptible to such attempts at manipulation. This reason for the Electoral College is virtually meaningless with changes that have "bound" electors to cast their votes for the candidate who wins the majority of the popular vote in each state.
The second reason for choosing presidents by electoral votes instead of by popular vote is to give the states a voice in the presidential election. The principle of federalism was and is a critical feature of the American political system. By placing states in this important position in the selection of the country's leader, the Framers sought to maintain the position of states as important entities in the American political system.
Imagine that presidential elections were not decided state-by-state, but rather by a nationwide popular vote. The significance of states and the candidates' competition for support in key, "swing" states would disappear. Candidates would be inclined to simply run nationwide ad campaigns and visit large population centers.

So...we continued our discussion feeling a bit more enlightened...and then Javier brought up, what he thought was a benign point, but had a profound affect on me. He asked if people feel complacent in their need to vote because they do not understand the electoral college and how it affects the outcomes of our Presidential elections and therefore feel that their vote does not count, so why stand in the line to do so? He went further on to say that in many countries, especially the Third World Countries, that have been afforded the right to vote, come out in droves, they are so desperate for change and excited that they have a voice.

So take that for whatever it may mean to you personally. This country is great for so many reasons and we need to exercise our right to participate. Stand up for what you believe in.

Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

OMG - Joey is coming back!

Just got the news in - Super Joe is coming back for one more season with the Avs! He is our captain and he was contemplating retirement. Our season was going to be lost before it even began if that would have happened. Now I have something to lift my beach withdrawal depression - I can't wait for the season to start! Now if only Peter would stay healthy and then he could come back too! Oh to dream. GO AVS!

Going Back To Cali...To Cali...And Now I'm Back

Just got back from a fantastic mini-vaca to San Francisco and Santa Cruz, CA. It was fantastic for so many reasons...but one of the highlights was being able to spend an evening with my old friend Lindy from highschool who I haven't seen in...wait for it...cuz I know it's unbelievable as I look like I'm still 18 (just let me believe it people)...16 YEARS! What was so great is that it felt like no time had passed. We had a blast!
The trip began at a very early 3:30am - and boredom quickly sat in as I was waiting for my 6am flight. Lots of people were cranky - but a ray of sunshine named Chris Orr- brightened the morning. I have never known an airline employee (especially a United employee...sorry no offense to anyone who might love that airline) to be so positive and fun...especially that early in the morning. I wish that my brain had been awake enough to have taken her picture. Her smile was contagious! Anyway...she brought everyone to laughter as she told jokes over the intercom and encouraged people to befriend someone new rather than sit by theirself because our flight was not even close to being full. We took off on time and I arrived in San Fran looking forward to the baggage did not arrive. SHOCKER! Those of you who know me are familiar with the numerous...and when I say numerous I mean 80% of my travel...stories that start with, "My damn baggage went missing again." RUDE! So...I decided to get checked in to my hotel rather than sit and stress about it. Holy cow - I thought this hotel was going to be a bargain hotel, but it was beautiful. If you ever find yourself in this beautiful city I would highly recomment the Hotel Whitcomb on 9th & Market. It's a historical landmark and the architecture inside is amazing. The staff were extraordinary.
As I was getting settled in, I decided to take a peek out of my window and saw this beautiful structure which turned out to be City Hall. Yikes - it's prettier than our capital. I was also greeted with some incredible Middle Eastern sounding music and lot of chanting. I couldn't quite make out what they were saying until a few minutes later when I hear someone get on a very loud mic and shout out, "Pakeeeeessstttaaaaahhhhhhnnnn!" and then proceeded to emit some type of Pakistani yodeling. It was crazy. That was all I needed to hear. I steered myself directly to the area (if you look at the picture of City Hall and notice there are some white tents in the lower right corner) to see what was goin' on. Oh Lord - there were tents full of food that smelled so good and tents full of arts and crafts and there was some amazing dancing going on and the crazy yodeler went on for close to 45 minutes. Then there were more speeches and more beautiful singing. I wish I had a clue what they were saying and singing about. It certainly did not prohibit me from eating or dancing. I got a lot of weird stares but they warmed up to me and I got to dance with 2 guys who looked like they were 105 years old. I tried to take their picture but was asked to refrain because it was considered rude. Oops...sorry. Really the more fascinating picture would of been of me, the crazy white girl, trying to do the Pakistani jig! :-) The people were kind though and didn't laugh too hard.
Lindy and I met for drinks at a swanky little lounge and had an amazing Mango Martini. Then on to dinner at an amazing Peruvian restaurant in the Hayes Valley neighborhood. Recommendation: Try the Beef yummy! We ended up at a bar that full of very interesting people...and animals. People actually brought their dogs to the bar. Anway...there was some awesome art there and I was taking pictures and everyone wanted to be in here is Lindy and some random dude posing with Natalie Portman.
After that fun time - Lindy and I came back to my hotel room and decided to practice some yoga together. Lindy is far more advanced than I - but I gave it my best. Standing on your head is not too hard! :-)
Look how good Lindy is! I looked pretty silly trying that one.
She is checking for any injuries I may have sustained in attempting that last pose.
Then it was on to Santa Cruz and hanging out on the beach. It was gorgeous! I love the fog and right off the boardwalk you can see a lighthouse in the distance. So I read on the beach and rode some rides on the boardwalk.

Well, I'm back home to reality now. Unfortunately I could not bring the beach home with me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Life is precious...

In a round about way - I found out yesterday that a friend from back in high-school was diagnosed with a horrible brain tumor recently that he more than likely will not survive. I am just so profoundly sad about it even though I have not kept in contact with him or his family through the years.

It's funny how quickly and suddenly life can just speed by or come to a crushingly sudden halt and all the sudden we can't remember the past or believe that there may be no future. This summer marked the 8 year anniversary of my being cancer free and I remember so clearly, as if it were yesterday, that I made a promise to myself to not take life for granted and to truly appreciate what I have in my family and my life in general. The first few years - I felt like a really made an effort to do that...but as the years have briskly moved forward...I think to myself..."Have I kept up that effort? Cuz I seem to hear myself complaining more and being grateful for less."

So I started back up on my "Gratefuls" list. I want to find at least 1 thing that I can be grateful for each day...try not to repeat them too much...and see if that helps me keep my effort up. I hate that it takes news like this to wake me up...and it perhaps sounds cheesy and less than genuine at this particular time to want to reach out to people in my life and find some way to communicate how much I appreciate them and their impact in my life...but it's there. Always surfacing in that "I meant to take the time" category and not ever acted upon as much as it should be.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I love weddings...

Just got back from my cousin Deidra's wedding and visiting with family. I had a blast! The trip was jam packed with funny stories that could only happen to me...but's that's a whole other entry. :-)

I am a bit upset because my camera quit on me right after the wedding so I wasn't able to take any other pictures and there were so many cool things I should have been able to take pictures of...for instance...My cousin Rachel had possums in her back yard!!! I was so excited! I got soooo close! It was awesome! I got to visit the ocean and see some giant sea gulls and went hunting for sand dollars. Deidra's husband Randall found a baby sand dollar that was still alive. I learned that when they die, the feelers (which looks like moss) fall off and you are left with what we see in the stores or on the beach. Then you can set them in bleach and it will make them nice and white. Anyway...I had so much fun getting reaquainted with the whole family. Thanks Steve, Rach, Marissa and Billy for letting me stay with you. I loved spending time with you! Russ - uh - don't forget to start looking for airfare out here for Thanksgiving! :-) I'm going to harass you!

So I didn't get very many great pictures but I will post what I have.
Bryce and Russ seating Cheryl
Randall waiting for Deidra...
Bryce, Vicky and Owen are also waiting!

Still waiting...

Randall and Deidra

Lake Mathis before the storm blew in

Well helloooo Mrs. Martin3 pretty ladies and a two handsome devils!

(Uncle Dick, April, Marissa, Sara & Daniel)

The girls - so pretty!
More pretty ladies - I have to admit I'm not sure who the lady is on the end...I'm sorry

Aunt Cheryl, Mary Beth and Aunt Gayle My cuz Russ - such a cutie!
Russ, me and Mary Beth
Look at this handsome bunch!

Riss, Rachel, John, Billy, Melinda, Daryl and April

Look at MB with Lucy - a natural!

Watch out! Lucy is giving MB a grabaroo!

Russ and his mommy!

Uncle Dick, Owen, Aunt Cheryl, Randall, Deidra, Tanner, Vicky, Russ, Colin, Bryce and little Lucy

Randall, Deidra, the flower girl and ring bearer. I think they are Vicky's neice and nephew.

The storm is a comin'

Awwww how cute. Daniel and Sara

Daniel, Sarah and Uncle Harley

That's all for now...peace out homies.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Newest Member of the Family

I have to admit...I am so jealous but so excited. The Zapatas have a new baby. Her name is Vespa (get it...Harley Davidson and Vespa?) and she is ridiculously adorable. She is just a little baby and I have to say she looks just like Cubie did when he was a baby. I have been told under no uncertain terms that I am not allowed to look at any of the babies that are still left from the litter...whatever. We'll see how that goes! :-)
Harley is not so sure what to think about this. Shawnda said that he's a cranky old guy at the rough age of 5 and doesn't really like her so far. He'll get over it! :-)
Uh...I'm not sure you are supposed to pee there little girl. RUDE! Poor Harley and Louis...I hope they don't drink the water! Aaaaaahh the days of potty training. So much fun!
Louis is not pleased with this new addition either. He just wanted to play with her and she bit his nose. Little guy had to retire to his bed to think about it.
And the chewing...more puppy fun!
I'm sure I'll have plenty of funny stories to tell as she grows! :-)
Welcome to the family Vespa!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

There are worse things...than your birthday...Lu

Yesterday my sister turned 32. Good Lord where has the time gone? Needless to say, she was not very excited about it and tried to hide under her bed. We forced her to come out for a nice steak dinner and presents. :-)

Someone gave her Elk Poop Chocolates (uh gross) and Duck soaps. What a combo!
Another submission to the Funny Face Project! That's a handsome family! Those boogers will go good with the Elk Poop. RUDE!
The whole fam -
Dad's friend Sandy, Dad, Javier, Isa, Lu, Natedogg & Shorty
Two of my favorite ladies - so pretty!

2 Incredible Men and the Wallmans visit Denver!

My dad and my cousin Aaron are truly amazing men. This is the second year they have run the Georgetown 1/2 Marathon (oh ps...that is 13.1 miles) in just over 2 hours. Progress was made as Aaron only lost 1 toenail this year! :-)

I bet the Finish Line never looked so good!

Oh yeah! The old man still has it! Keepin' up with the young 'uns!

The exhaustion has set in. I think Dad's face says it all. Aaron is thinking "You actually want me to get up?"

I couldn't resist posting this picture because Anna's face is just too precious.

She looks a little mischevious!

Awwww! Grandpa and Isa - the apple of the old man's eye. It just makes my heart so happy when I see them together. Could they be any cuter?!?!? I may be biased.

We brought reinforcements! Aaron and Jenni's college friends Luke and Erin, who just happened to have just moved to Castle Rock recently, were sweet enought to drive all the way up to support Aaron. They arrived just in time to see Aaron finish. We all went and had a nice lunch together...but first...we got to witness a crazy truck fire that set the side of the highway on fire...and poor Luke and Erin got lost on the way to the restaurant. They finally made it and we grubbed on some seriously "fat-free" food.

The Wallman Family

My dad is amazing!

The rest of the support team! Natedogg, me and Isa.

When we arrived home - the runners took some seriously long naps.

We really enjoyed having Jenni, Aaron, Anna and Jacob at our house. Even if it was for such a short visit!
I have started a new photography project called "The Funny Face Project" and Anna and Jacob submitted their entries! You gotta love those mugs! :-)

Our nephew Jason is trying to decide if giving Anna a hug is going to get him bit by the bear. They were so stinkin' adorable together.
Jacob loved Cubie! Just like Anna did 2 years ago, Jacob decided that Cubie was his jungle gym. He crawled all over him and Cubie just laid there...he is so good with kids!

We can't wait for next year! Jacob will be playing pee-wee football by then! :-)